By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, May 16, 2013 - 0 Comments
“No more Mr. Nice Guy’ – The “positive campaign” as a strategy in the face of relentless attacks does not work, especially when the ballot question winds up being leadership. Everyone remembers the 2012 Obama campaign as positive, but seems to forget that a brutal series of negative ads against Mitt Romney six months earlier paved the way for their positive end-game. Voters (especially women) might tell focus groups ahead of time that they don’t like negative attacks and prefer positive campaign ads, but that feedback is given in isolation from exposure to the other campaign. Once you get into an election period, with the two main campaigns running in parallel, if one campaign is constantly attacking you, turning the other cheek looks wimpy…
“Anger is better than love, and fear works better than hope” – In the chaotic and frenzied info-saturated world electoral campaigns now have to function within, strong negative emotions repeated endlessly cut through the clutter if they’re not answered better with strong communications and marketing. The BC Liberal campaign was able to change the ballot question for enough people from ‘time for a change’ to ‘fear of weak leadership’, while the hopeful kids who wanted ‘change for the better’ did not seem to feel it necessary to vote.
And then there are the kids these days…
“The lessons are different for right and left” – Conservative parties received confirmation last night that they are right to stay in their own bubble and mistrust the ‘analysis’ coming from the policy wonks in the media (or, evidently, me). They learned that they can speak to their core supporters, who have very different demographics and values, and ignore everyone else. Ranking the BC ridings by turnout shows the older, wealthier ridings near 60% turnout, and the less-well-off, younger ridings down in the low 40s. The turnout bonus for conservative parties is apparently accelerating, as well, going from a 3- or 4-point gap in the 2011 federal race to a 10-point gap last night in BC. Ten ridings were decided by less than 3.7% of the vote, and while under BC elections law there are six kinds of absentee ballots that won’t be counted until May 27 which could conceivably change the outcome in several of those seats, it was not closeness of the race but turnout that was decisive in explaining last night’s historic upset. If the traditional demographic bases of support for progressive parties do not vote in sufficient numbers, they will become increasingly powerless to effect other changes in their society.
The federal New Democrats and Liberals might have plans that don’t include attracting a large number of young voters, but their respective causes likely become easier to realize if either wins the strong support of those under the age of 30 and, importantly, if that age group votes in significant numbers. Barack Obama narrowly lost the vote to Mitt Romney among voters over the age of 30, but he won 60% of the vote among those under the age of 30. And voters between the ages of 18 and 29 made up 19% of the American electorate in 2012.
I can’t find directly comparable numbers, but Elections Canada has estimated that voters between the ages of 18 and 34 accounted for 20% of the Canadian electorate in the 2011 election. Votes among those 18 to 24 were estimated to be up slightly from 2008, but both the 18-to-24 group and the 25-to-34 group voted at a rate below the national average.
By Martin Patriquin - Thursday, May 16, 2013 at 3:45 PM - 0 Comments
The Government House Leader’s statement on bribery allegations in La Presse
Here’s a statement from Government House Leader Peter Van Loan regarding La Presse’s revelation that former Laval Mayor Gilles Vaillancourt allegedly attempted to bribe NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair when the latter was a provincial MNA.
According to Radio-Canada [ed's note: it was actually La Presse's exclusive] Thomas Mulcair has known about corruption in Quebec politics since 1994, when the Mayor of Laval allegedly offered him “help” in the typical Liberal style: an envelope. Thomas Mulcair appears to have kept this sordid affair to himself for seventeen years. In 2010, he even denied having ever been offered a bribe. Yet after seventeen years of silence, Mulcair finally spoke up after investigations were already underway in 2011. As a result, Thomas Mulcair could be called before the Charbonneau Commission to explain his (in)action.
Mulcair kept his firsthand knowledge of corruption from the public for two more years, before choosing to dump it today, when he felt the media would be distracted by other stories.
This presents some difficult questions for Mr. Mulcair:
Why did he protect Gilles Vaillancourt and cover up this alleged criminal activity for 17 years?
Why did it take a public inquiry into the biggest corruption scandal in Canadian history for Thomas Mulcair to finally come clean with Canadians?
Why did Thomas Mulcair lie and say he was never offered any money by Gilles Vaillancourt?
Will he agree to appear if called to testify under oath before the Charbonneau Commission?
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, May 16, 2013 at 11:16 AM - 0 Comments
Liberal MP Denis Coderre announces he’s seeking to be the next mayor of Montreal and with that the race for Bourassa can be begin. And with that might come the first real test of Justin Trudeau’s leadership.
After losing in his first run for the riding in 1993, Mr. Coderre won it six times between 1997 and 2011, but the 40.9% of the vote he received in 2011 was the lowest share a Liberal has ever received in Bourassa.
The New Democrats came within 3,300 votes in that election, but that was with the NDP receiving 43% of the vote in the province and the Liberals taking 14%. The latest monthly polling average put the Liberals at 36% and the New Democrats at 26%, but then there seems to be some belief among New Democrats that Liberal support in Bourassa is tied to Mr. Coderre.
It was, of course, the NDP’s win in a previously safe Liberal riding in Montreal—Outremont in 2007—that gave the NDP a presence in Quebec and rattled the leadership of Stephane Dion. (Fun fact: Before the Liberals nominated Jocelyn Coulon, it was thought that Justin Trudeau might be the Liberal candidate in Outremont.)
Meanwhile, Bloc leader Daniel Paille, still without a seat in the House, has said he won’t run in Bourassa.
By The Canadian Press - Friday, May 3, 2013 at 10:51 PM - 0 Comments
HALIFAX – Former NDP Leader Alexa McDonough says she feels blessed that a routine,…
HALIFAX – Former NDP Leader Alexa McDonough says she feels blessed that a routine, annual mammogram detected her breast cancer four months ago.
The woman who led the federal party between 1995 and 2003 spoke about her illness in an interview, saying she wants other women to know how important early detection can be.
“I’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer and I’m being treated for it, and I’m very grateful for that,” she said Friday evening, as she prepared to go to dinner with friends.
“Huge numbers of women across the country and around the world have breast cancer and part of why I’m prepared to speak about it is that early detection is extremely important.”
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, April 23, 2013 at 9:01 AM - 0 Comments
Shortly after Dominic LeBlanc had said his piece yesterday, Independent MP Bruce Hyer, formerly of the NDP, stood to add his support to Mark Warawa’s question of privilege.
Before the third reading vote on the long gun registry bill, for example, I was informed by the whip of my former party that if I did not vote as the party wished, then I would be “punished”. After that vote I was instantly punished: no questions, no statements, no foreign travel, no committee representation, no debating time other than asking brief questions of party debaters.
However, I was not really the one who was punished by the party and by our system here. It was the constituents of Thunder Bay—Superior North who were punished. Their voice in the House of Commons was muzzled. The person they had elected was no longer able to speak for them, to ask their questions and to raise their concerns and aspirations.
Tomorrow will be exactly one year to the day since I became an independent. I was scheduled that day to have my first S. O. 31 statement since my punishment had begun. Somehow the party found out that I would use my statement to announce my becoming independent. In the few minutes before my scheduled speaking time, they asked the Speaker to pull my statement, and the Speaker complied. However, now, as an independent, I and my constituents do get a reasonable and adequate number of questions and statements.
The similarities between my experience and that of the member for Langley are striking. We must all recognize that we have developed a problem in Parliament of excessive party control, and we must move to fix the problem before it erodes our democracy any further.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 12:05 PM - 0 Comments
Backloading failed because even in very green Europe, economic concerns seemed to trump environmental ones. European Parliamentary members worried that any action that would cause the price of carbon to rise would add to European industry’s already high energy costs. Europe, unlike the U.S., doesn’t have relatively cheap, relatively clean natural gas to help cushion that blow. At the same time, European nations like Germany are rethinking some of their renewable energy policies, concerned by the rising cost of electricity. It looks like a textbook example of what Roger Pielke Jr. calls the “iron law of climate policy“: when climate policy starts to hurt economically, even the greenest states start to back away.
It’s possible that backloading may get a second chance before the European Parliament, and even without a viable carbon market, Europe is still the global leader in climate action. Nor is the ETS the only game in town. California launched its own cap-and-trade system this year—though that’s come under political pressure as well—and Australia has introduced a price on carbon. China may do so as well. But the hope that we may be able to reduce carbon emissions the same way we cut pollutants like sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxide—through a well-run cap-and-trade —seems to be dimming, a victim of its own complexity and a sluggish global economy. That might leave the door open for other policies, including a straight carbon tax, more support for renewables or increases R&D funding for carbon-free power. We could use all three, but carbon markets may be finished. If carbon trading can’t make it in Europe, it can’t make it anywhere.
China is apparently undeterred.
The developments in Europe might be interpreted in one of two ways: either it is evidence that carbon markets won’t work or it puts the onus on those who propose carbon markets to explain how their proposal accounts for the shortcomings of the European system.
There is, it seems to me, another looming issue, another one which the NDP will have to account for. Let’s say that, by 2015, British Columbia has expanded its carbon tax (as the BC NDP currently proposes), Alberta has increased its carbon tax (as the Progressive Conservative government there seems to be considering), Quebec has a cap-and-trade system linked with California (as both jurisdictions are moving towards) and, say, one other province has implemented a carbon-pricing mechanism of some kind (Manitoba? Ontario? Newfoundland?). How then does the NDP reconcile its proposal for a national cap-and-trade system with all of that? What do the Liberals—Mr. Trudeau having offered vague support for a price on carbon—propose? Do we end up with a number of different approaches—carbon taxes, carbon markets and regulatory regimes—functioning within the country? Does that make sense? Is it feasible or political possible to build a national carbon-pricing mechanism, or at least a national approach that takes into account provincial jurisdiction?
Jean Charest thinks the country is headed towards a carbon tax. Somewhere Stephane Dion is either nodding grimly or screaming.
Update 4:19pm. Further to this post, I sent along a question to the NDP side: How would an NDP government reconcile a national cap-and-trade system with provincial jurisdictions that already have carbon-pricing mechanisms? The response from Thomas Mulcair’s office is as follows.
We will deal with this as we’ll deal with every other issues of shared responsibility: by cooperation.
I’ve asked a few smart people if they have any thoughts on the way forward and hope to post those in the next while.
By Aaron Wherry - Sunday, April 14, 2013 at 9:24 PM - 0 Comments
Greg Fingas, meanwhile, looks at one resolution that didn’t pass.
Now, the resolution didn’t pass. But that wasn’t a matter of it lacking support on the convention floor: instead, after one strong speech favouring the resolution, Libby Davies moved that it be referred to federal council with instructions that it return a formal policy later this year. And that motion, combined with the obvious support of the convention for the cause of ensuring that sex workers are recognized as citizens rather than stigmatized, looks to ensure that the NDP will present an unprecedentedly inclusive policy in the years to come.
By Aaron Wherry - Sunday, April 14, 2013 at 8:17 PM - 0 Comments
Within the Palais des congres de Montreal, a complex series of boxes, decorated with brightly coloured glass and perched above the freeway, where Stephane Dion once became Liberal leader and where, if memory serves, Michael Ignatieff blew kisses from an escalator to supporters below, the president of the NDP called the meeting to order. And with that there was a complaint. It was in the opinion of a man referred to as Barry, apparently a fellow from the socialist caucus, that the 30 minutes set aside on Saturday afternoon to hear from an organizer of the Obama campaign be allotted, instead, for policy discussion. Barry seemed rather unimpressed with policies of President Obama’s administration.
“We don’t need Jeremy Bird to lecture NDPers on the virtues of the American bipartisan political system,” he ventured. “Labour and the NDP aren’t here to take instruction from political operatives of the White House. But we do have some good advice for our American sisters and brothers, for our fellow workers in the United States. Follow the example of the NDP, form an independent political party based on your unions, break with the Democratic party.”
Joe Cressy, a Toronto organizer who has worked for Olivia Chow and Paul Dewar, stepped forward to speak against Barry’s proposed amendment. “Friends, we have had a great start to this convention already and let’s keep this positive energy going,” he said. “We must build on our momentum by maintaining a packed agenda that has everything from learning how to organize and fundraise better to hearing from our leader, Tom Mulcair, to, yes, learning from the Obama team on how to mobilize those who…”
His final words were drowned out in applause. Continue…
By Jennifer Ditchburn - Sunday, April 14, 2013 at 4:52 PM - 0 Comments
MONTREAL – Tom Mulcair is calling his party’s weekend policy convention a critical pivot…
MONTREAL – Tom Mulcair is calling his party’s weekend policy convention a critical pivot — one where the NDP wheeled away from stridently socialist language and solidified its embrace of cutting-edge campaign techniques in advance of a 2015 election.
New Democrats voted overwhelmingly Sunday to strip most of the references to socialism from the preamble to the party constitution, including the support of “social ownership” and business-unfriendly language.
In its place is an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink statement that refers to the party’s social democratic “roots,” removing inequalities in society, and Mulcair’s main focus on sustainable economic development.
“That’s a better way for us to reach out beyond our traditional base, talk to Canadians who might share our vision, who might share our goals, but who weren’t too sure,” Mulcair said at an end-of-convention news conference.
By Nick Taylor-Vaisey - Sunday, April 14, 2013 at 3:03 PM - 0 Comments
It used to be that New Democrats couldn’t win enough seats to govern the country. That might still be the case. But they’re bent on achieving the ultimate victory the next time around, and aren’t afraid to say it over and over and over. Their open hatred of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, expressed without a whiff of hyperbole, energizes them. Their dismissal of the Liberals as any kind of alternative to the ruling conservatives, nothing new but certainly sweeter from the perch of official opposition, energizes them. Their kinship, embodied by those frequent utterances of “brother” and “sister,” energizes them. If these people are living in a dream world, no one’s told them—and they’d never listen, anyway.
These are the New Democrats who gathered in Montreal’s Palais des congrès for a policy conference in April 2013. They reaffirmed their faith in Tom Mulcair, their leader, by giving him approval numbers—92.3 per cent—on par with Jack Layton. They’ve turned the words of Layton, their fallen leader, into gospel: “Don’t let them tell you it can’t be done” fuels the party faithful, two years out from a federal election and two years removed from the next.
Barry Weisleder wishes it weren’t so, but his voice is but a whisper among a hollering crowd of power-hungry do-gooders. Weisleder, a member of the NDP for 44 years, opposes fiercely the party’s apparent moves to the centre, and has for some time. The NDP’s decision to play down its socialist roots in the preamble to its constitution, a resolution that passed with overwhelming enthusiasm on the convention’s final morning, was a case in point. Weisleder stood at microphones all weekend long. He flexed all the procedural muscle he could muster, with increasing desperation, when he disagreed with a policy debated on the floor. Each time, he was voted down.
The thing about Weisleder, though, is he’s not going anywhere. No way, no how. The NDP is his party as much as it’s anyone else’s, and he’s happy to be a stick in the mud as long as it takes for his side to prevail. “We have plans to continue the struggle within the NDP because it’s the only labour-based party in North America,” he said. “It would be insane to abandon this party to those who want to embrace capitalism in crisis. We offer a better, more hopeful, more positive alternative.”
Weisleder’s gang of socialists nattered at the convention’s edges. They surrounded the escalator to the convention, handing out literature meant to reinforce their principled opposition. They unfurled an anti-drone banner in protest of a planned speech by Jeremy Bird, U.S. President Barack Obama’s former national field director.
They found lots of reporters willing to listen, but the militant socialists, perhaps more than ever, are on the fringe. Privately, delegates dismissed the socialists’ jeers. Publicly, they respectfully disagreed. Erin Weir, an economist with the United Steelworkers who ran to lead the Saskatchewan NDP earlier this year, was about as diplomatic as possible when I asked him about Weisleder’s tact. “[Debate] is tremendously important, because the convention needs to be about debating ideas. It’s good for people to be vigorously engaged in that debate, and putting forward different points of view,” he said. “I think it’s actually very healthy for the party to have some different perspectives, and to have some people challenging the consensus on matters.”
A policy convention certainly isn’t a place where people are going to openly say debate is a bad thing. But the floor’s collective voice, which continually voted down hardcore dissent—opposing all pipelines, nationalizing industry—did all the talking.
Meanwhile, the party’s broadened tent milled about outside the convention hall.
I spoke with Patrick Allard, a long-time Montreal civil servant who fell in love with Layton’s energy during the 2011 election. Allard, who sported a Montreal Impact windbreaker, passionately spoke about the need for strong services and social programs for Canadians. In an age of austerity, he says, the NDP is the only party worth his time.
I also spoke with Jenn Prosser, a 26-year-old staffer in MP Niki Ashton’s office. Prosser got her start in the NDP during Alberta’s most recent election campaign. She helped a candidate in Lethbridge-West, Shannon Phillips, rack up 29 per cent of the riding’s vote—good enough for second place. Prosser hasn’t looked back.
I also spoke with Manveer Sihota, a 20-year-old Sikh from Surrey, B.C. Sihota is young enough that Layton played no part in his pursuit of the NDP. Sihota said his mom, a single parent, had her rights violated by her employer (he didn’t elaborate further). Her union stepped in, he said, and got results. Naturally, as Sihota looked for a political home in the wake of all that distress, he found friends in the NDP.
Just before I left the convention, I spoke with a delegate who was lured to the party by Nathan Cullen during his leadership run last year. She didn’t want to be named or quoted, but suffice to say she’s got a keen interest in the environment and not so keen an interest in partisanship. She’s dabbling in the NDP, just the same as she’s dabbled in other parties over the past few years. Her presence in Montreal is important. The convention hall might have been mostly full of true believers, but the party’s tent is now big enough that she still has a home—even if it’s not forever.
The NDP has no intention of losing in 2015. Its polling numbers are shaky, but not terrible. Its tent is bigger than ever. Whatever its actual chances against a Conservative machine that knows how to win and a Liberal gang that’s rallying behind a new leader, only a small group led by Barry Weisleder is willing to play devil’s advocate. And that group lost a lot of ground this weekend.
Whipped up by his frenzied team of social democrats, Mulcair marches forth.
By Aaron Wherry - Sunday, April 14, 2013 at 12:54 PM - 0 Comments
After a brief, but spirited, debate and some amount of procedural squabbling, New Democrats approved a new preamble to their party’s constitution this afternoon. The final vote was 960 to 188. Here is the complete (and amended) text.
Canada is a great country, one of the hopes of the world. New Democrats are Canadians who believe we can be a better one — a country of greater equality, justice, and opportunity. We can build sustainable prosperity, and a society that shares its benefits more fairly. We can look after our seniors. We can offer better futures for our children. We can do our part to save the world’s environment. New Democrats work together to these ends for the sake of our fellow citizens and in the interests of all of humanity.
New Democrats are proud of our political and activist heritage, and our long record of visionary, practical, and successful governments. That heritage and that record have distinguished and inspired our party since the creation of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation in 1933, and the founding of the New Democratic Party in 1961.
New Democrats seek a future which brings together the best of the insights and objectives of Canadians who, within the social democratic and democratic socialist traditions, have worked through farmer, labour, co-operative, feminist, human rights and environmental movements, First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples, to build a more just, equal, and sustainable Canada within a global community dedicated to the same goals.
New Democrats celebrate Canada’s diversity and the deep histories, traditions and aspirations of all of its peoples. New Democrats believe in an intercultural integration model based on solidarity and harmonious exchanges among individuals of differing cultures.
New Democrats believe in freedom and democracy, and in a positive role for democratically elected and accountable Parliaments, legislatures and the governments responsible to them.
New Democrats affirm a role for government in helping to create the conditions for sustainable prosperity. We believe in a rules based economy, nationally and globally, in which governments have the power to address the limitations of the market in addressing the common good, by having the power to act in the public interest, for social and economic justice, and for the integrity of the environment.
New Democrats belong to the family of other progressive democratic political parties that govern successfully in many countries around the world. In co-operation with like minded political parties and governments, New Democrats are committed to working together for peace, international co-operation, and the common good of all – the common good being our fundamental purpose as a movement and as a party
Here is the old preamble.
By Aaron Wherry - Sunday, April 14, 2013 at 10:21 AM - 0 Comments
The seven resolutions passed during the last panel yesterday.
6-01-13 Resolution on a National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women
Submitted by Churchill, the Aboriginal Peoples Commission
WHEREAS over six hundred Aboriginal women have gone missing or been murdered in Canada;
WHEREAS the Government of Canada has cancelled funding to Sisters in Spirit research into missing and murdered Aboriginal women; and
BE IT RESOLVED THAT the New Democratic Party of Canada urge the Government of Canada to immediately launch, in consultation with Aboriginal women and their representatives, a national inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal women; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT the New Democratic Party of Canada reaffirm its commitment to ending violence against First Nations, Inuit and Métis women by committing to action, including addressing root causes and systemic inequalities.
By The Canadian Press - Saturday, April 13, 2013 at 4:32 PM - 0 Comments
MONTREAL – Liberals, what Liberals?
NDP Leader Tom Mulcair largely ignored his main competition…
MONTREAL – Liberals, what Liberals?
NDP Leader Tom Mulcair largely ignored his main competition for progressive votes Saturday, delivering a speech to party members focused on criticism of the Conservatives and how the NDP will defeat them.
“We’ll have to work harder than we ever have, and we’ll have to work together. But I know we’re up to the task,” Mulcair told an enthusiastic crowd of roughly 2,000 in Montreal’s massive Palais de Congres.
“In the next campaign, Conservatives will face an NDP election machine unlike anything they’ve ever seen. We’re strong we’re united and we’re determined.”
By Aaron Wherry - Saturday, April 13, 2013 at 3:41 PM - 0 Comments
The prepared text of Thomas Mulcair’s speech to the NDP convention this afternoon.
Thank you very much.
Look at this crowd. What energy.
Thousands of New Democrats from coast-to-coast-to-coast.
From the Northwest Territories to Southern Ontario.
From Victoria to the coast of Labrador.
From the centre of Manitoba to all across Quebec.
This is the party that speaks for Canadians.
This is the party that fights for Canadians.
And this is the party that gets results for Canadians.
By Aaron Wherry - Saturday, April 13, 2013 at 2:58 PM - 0 Comments
Thomas Mulcair’s leadership has been endorsed by 92.3% of delegates at the NDP leadership.
For the sake of comparison, Jack Layton received 92% in 2006, 89.3% in 2009 and 97.9% in 2011.
By Aaron Wherry - Saturday, April 13, 2013 at 12:30 PM - 0 Comments
The resolutions passed by New Democrats today during the convention’s third panel.
5-05-13 Resolution on Idle No More
Submitted by the Aboriginal Peoples Commission
WHEREAS years of inaction and broken promises from successive liberal and conservative government has led to severe social injustice and shocking poverty in too many communities
WHEREAS as a consequence we are witnessing an historic and growing grassroots movement joining Indigenous peoples and other Canadians in a long overdue conversation
BE IT RESOLVED that the New Democratic Party continues to work towards building a new relationship on a nation-to nation basis with First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples
BE IT ALSO RESOLVED that the NDP engages with grassroots Aboriginal activists who are calling on the government of Canada to repeal legislation like omnibus bill C-38 and C-45 that diminishes environmental protections of land and water and affect Aboriginal and Indigenous rights and title
By Aaron Wherry - Saturday, April 13, 2013 at 12:22 PM - 0 Comments
The resolutions passed this morning by New Democrats.
2-01-13 Resolution on Coastal and Marine Area Protection
Submitted by Dartmouth—Cole Harbour
WHEREAS, Canada has the longest coastline in the world and Canadians expect and deserve healthy oceans and marine areas for present and future generations.
BE IT RESOLVED, that the following clause be added to section 2.1 of the policy book.
New Democrats believe in:
- Canada’s commitment to protect at least 10% of coastal and marine areas by 2020 as committed to under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, April 12, 2013 at 6:07 PM - 0 Comments
In the first hour of debate this weekend, New Democrats passed six resolutions under the heading “Innovating and Prospering in the New Energy Economy.”
1-01-13 Resolution on Combatting Tax Shelters
Submitted by Hochelaga
WHEREAS, in addition to creating a “parasitic” sector driven by tax evasion, tax shelters serve to hide profits and the very existence of vast fortunes, often obtained by criminal means;
BE IT RESOLVED that a new clause be added to Subsection 1.7 of the Policy Book:
e. Combatting tax shelters and money laundering.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, April 12, 2013 at 2:36 PM - 0 Comments
Under the heading of “Governing in an Inclusive and Fair Canada,” the New Democrats have a number of resolutions to consider this weekend—I’m in Montreal and will be here through Sunday—on proportional representation, open government, government advertising and evidence-based policy. But the most interesting resolutions might be a couple that deal with parliamentary reform.
First, from the riding association in Sudbury.
5-47-13 Resolution on Prorogation
BE IT RESOLVED THAT The Federal NDP oppose the unilateral prorogation of Parliament in Canada without the consent of a 2/3 majority of elected members
And, more comprehensively, from Hull-Aylmer.
5-54-13 Resolution on Transparent Democratic Process
WHEREAS New Democrats believe in a fair, accountable and democratic parliamentary process that Canadians deserve;
WHEREAS New Democrats believe that the Canadian parliamentary process does not provide the adequate checks and balances in order to permit opposition parties to hold majority governments to account
BE IT RESOLVED THAT: These policies be added as a new section 5.3 to the Policy Book of the New Democratic Party with all subsequent section renumbered accordingly
a) All omnibus bills shall be limited in scope
a) All legislation should go to the appropriate committees
b) Moving committee proceedings in camera shall require the consent of two thirds majority of committee members
3) House of Commons
a) An NDP government shall respect the Parliamentary tradition that bills be debated for as long as it takes for every Member to speak once, or until debate collapses
i.) The use of a time allocation motion shall be permitted for no more than one piece of legislation per sitting
Implement those principles on prorogation, omnibus legislation and time allocation and you would have a very different—better? worse? more unwieldy? more democratic?—Parliament from the one we’ve had the last six years.
By The Canadian Press - Friday, April 12, 2013 at 12:37 PM - 0 Comments
TTAWA – The New Democrats kick off a policy convention today they say will…
TTAWA – The New Democrats kick off a policy convention today they say will retool their party’s message and policies to better suit a government in waiting.
NDP Leader Tom Mulcair is billing his party’s event as a critical moment that will give New Democrats the vision and determination to carry them through to the next election.
Party members will vote on a change that’s been haunting conventions since 2009 — modernizing the preamble of the party’s constitution.
A panel has come up with a more moderate statement that drops numerous references to “socialism” and “socialist,” as well as the document’s anti-free market language.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, April 12, 2013 at 10:36 AM - 0 Comments
The New Democrats have released the motion they’ll have the House debate on Monday.
“That this House condemn the tax hikes introduced by the government in Budget 2013 on hospital parking, bicycles, baby strollers, coffee makers, iPods and other goods and services, which break the promise the Government made to Canadians during the last election.”
See previously: A tax on imported blankets, The Commons: Ted Menzies challenges everyone to find a tax increase in the budget, A tax on bicycles, baby carriages and iPods, The Great iPod Tax Crisis of 2013 and The iPod tax: The finance department responds
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 12:52 PM - 0 Comments
Three weeks after asking Manulife to raise its mortgage rate, Jim Flaherty frets—in a statement released by the Conservative party—that the New Democrats do not respect the free market.
“It has recently come to my attention that the NDP will be voting on policy resolutions at their national policy convention this coming weekend.
Normally, I would not comment on such matters. But given the NDP’s position as the Official Opposition and the far-reaching nature of many of the proposals being considered, I am compelled to register my concerns publicly. Many of these NDP proposals would have a negative impact on the economy, stifling job creation and creating hardships for individuals, families, seniors and workers. While we have long come to expect the NDP to advocate for tax increases (which they do repeatedly through their policy resolutions – from a new tax on everyday financial transactions, eliminating popular tax credits for families, imposing higher personal income and business taxes, and much more – Resolutions 1-12-13, 1-29-13, 1-77-13, 1-54-13, 1-77-13, 1-81-13, 1-82-13, 1-84-13, 1-93-13, 5-57-13; Policy Book pages 4 and 8), it is other more jarring aspects of their economic policy resolutions that should give Canadians reason for significant concern.
For example, the NDP will consider proposals to radically change the mandate of the long independent Bank of Canada, effectively making it a political arm of the Government. As recent history has demonstrated, such action leads to serious and devastating impacts on an economy. (Resolutions 1-16-13, 1-30-13, 1-85-13, 1-86-13, 1-89-13; Policy Book page 3).
The NDP policy resolutions would rip up every single trade agreement that Canada has entered into, negatively impacting Canadian exporters. Essentially, the NDP would erect an isolationist wall around Canada, retreating from being a member of the global economy. This would harm Canada’s economy and literally millions of jobs. (Resolutions 4-24-13, 5-58-13; Policy Book page 8).
The NDP policy resolutions would, much like what occurred in many socialist states last century, use the government to forcefully take over almost every major industry in Canada through nationalization. That means the NDP would confiscate and take over companies involved in the oil & gas sector, manufacturing, communications (like radio and TV stations), the mining sector, the financial services sector, the insurance sector, the steel industry, the automotive sector, and more. An economy completely controlled and run for the political benefit of the government, as history has shown, would destroy Canada’s economy and kill literally millions of jobs. (Resolutions 1-91-13,1-95-13, 1-96-13, 1-97-13, 1-98-13).
For those few remaining small businesses the NDP does not propose to outright nationalize, the NDP policy resolutions would reduce them to wards of the state with stifling government control and bureaucratic red tape. This includes proposals that would limit when they could open and would have the government dictate key business decisions. The incentives that help fuel free enterprise, the lifeblood of a market-based democracy would be dead – replaced by control by bloated government. (Resolutions 1-94-13, 1-99-13).
Considered in their totality, the NDP proposals would fundamentally change Canada from a market-based democracy to one resembling a command-economy socialist state – like those that so spectacularly failed in the last century. The fact that the NDP is actively promoting this utterly discredited economic model at their national convention raises serious concerns about their support for Canada’s proud and long traditional of being a market-based democracy centered on free enterprise.”
Here again are the resolutions that will be debated this weekend. The Conservatives have a policy convention this summer. The resolutions submitted for their 2011 convention are here. The resolutions submitted for their 2008 convention are here.
Policy conventions are, of course, tricky matters to navigate for political leaders, presenting, as they do, opportunity for expressions of thought that might not correspond with the leader’s preferred message. Just ask the Conservatives.
By Fannie Olivier - Tuesday, April 9, 2013 at 7:30 PM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – The office of International Co-operation Minister Julian Fantino claims an email it…
OTTAWA – The office of International Co-operation Minister Julian Fantino claims an email it sent staff urging that all correspondence in his name be in English was subsequently altered.
However, a source who provided the email to The Canadian Press vows no changes were made to the document before it was given to the news agency.
On Sunday, The Canadian Press reported that employees of the Canadian International Development Agency got two separate directives — one verbal and one written — that all correspondence from the minister should be in English.
Both directives were later abandoned after they were questioned but the New Democrats filed a complaint with the office of the Official Languages Commissioner, who agreed to investigate. The NDP argues the orders may have violated the Official Languages Act.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, April 9, 2013 at 1:09 PM - 0 Comments
Before the Liberals
confirm Justin Trudeau’s leadershipannounce the name of their new leader in Ottawa this weekend, the New Democrats will hold their biennial policy convention in Montreal.
For those who want to see concerted action against tax havens and unbridled financial speculation (including a Robin Hood tax), an increased focus on social and community ownership and employment rather than capital interests, and a move away from corporate self-regulation, the NDP’s economic resolutions address all of those issues.
For those interested in social issues typically ignored by Canada’s other political parties such as focusing on intergenerational fairness, basing policy on the social determinants of health, expanding and strengthening of the Canada Health Act, and eliminating mandatory minimum sentences, those subjects will also be up for discussion within the social investment panel. And for those wanting a trade policy which doesn’t handcuff Canadian governments, a system to protect the rights of temporary foreign workers or an explicit focus on diplomatic measures over military action, the panel on Canada’s place in the world will address all of those possibilities.
I’ll be in attendance from Friday through Sunday. Before then, I’ll have a post on the democratic and parliamentary reforms that will be up for consideration.